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Columns

  • Good luck grappling with legacy issues

    It is good to read in the Los Alamos Monitor (Nov.  22-23) that environmental remediation at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is starting to shift its emphasis.  
    A bias for action is starting to replace the New Mexico Environment Department’s (NMED) need to study things to death.
    In the first six years of the compliance order on consent, studies NMED required LANL to perform cost about $900 million and consumed more than 90 percent of the total budget for those years.   
    LANL already had 35 years of study and research before the order. NMED Secretary F. David Martin and the Martinez administration have a real challenge to reverse the NMED “bring me another rock” syndrome.

  • And so it begins...

    The sun rises in the morning. Breakfasts are scarfed down and drivers crowd the roads battling their way to work.  
    Shoppers hunt for bargains as food prices rise and paychecks are cut. Tired and frustrated workers on their way home curse as they sit in traffic jams.  
    Overcooked dinners are eaten while watching  reruns of “Housewives of Bayonne.”  
    Kids play video games as their homework collects dust. The sun shrugs and sinks out of sight, and the day comes to a close.
    A new year greets us with pretty much the same old same old, routines we’ve learned to master without having to exert any thought.  
    A new year, a new beginning, and the same old garbage we’re fed each day.

  • Reverse engineering

    Two recent columns assured there is no worry about Iranian scientists reverse engineering the U.S. drone that mysteriously landed in Iran.
    But Santa Fe reader Mike Patel reminds that although Iranian scientists couldn’t reverse engineer a baby buggy, they can provide access to interested countries.
    Pitel notes that our friends in Pakistan gave China a look at our crashed stealth helicopter used in the killing of Osama bin Laden. They later gave us back the helicopter’s remains.
    Iran was asked to give the drone back but that’s not going to happen.
    And you can bet that China already has paid a visit to the drone and may eventually have it in its possession.

  • The irresistible resolve to control

    I feel one coming on, oh heck I feel a lot coming on. Oh no, I don’t want to do it but I can’t control the temptation.
    Yikes, here they come ... my New Year’s Resolutions.
    Ok, here goes. I resolve to grow my hair back in a month, my eyebrows in a week. I resolve to banish cancer from my body forever, and stop my husband nagging me.
    Oh hang on, but I have no control over any of those things, especially the last one!  Umm. What on earth am I going to do?
    Seems silly doesn’t it to try and control that which we have no power over, like our own health, but it’s often a reflex reaction when you’re diagnosed with cancer.

  • Hitting below the belt

    If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to eat right and trim down, be forewarned that medical science shows your brain has it in for you and will actively promote your failure on two different fronts.
    That’s not good news, of course, but you should know about it so you can strengthen your resolve as best you can.
    Here’s the scoop. It’s relatively easy – particularly if you are significantly overweight – to lose a few pounds by reducing the number of calories you consume each day.
    The problem is that your initial success will trigger a couple of responses in your body.
    First, as you lose weight a hormone called leptin, which is produced by your fat cells, will start to drop in concentration.

  • Reveal all additives

    Innovation is the pride and lifeblood of our democracy. Innovation in business systems and industries’ products is vital and thriving. Unending resources go into more innovations, think R&D.
    Innovation in regulatory tools is as vital, but lags far behind. Why does filling a crucial need attract scant interest and effort? Custom perhaps. Blind spots?
    Our interest group took a timely occasion to campaign for regulatory innovation.    
    On Nov. 17, the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission (OCC) held a hearing on a narrow issue related to fracking.

  • Best deal of the foreseeable future

    It’s a lot easier to criticize a proposed project than it is to defend it. The Nattering Nabobs of Negativism against the Patient Visionaries.  
    To understand this, I think of it like statistical mechanics:  a system with many degrees of freedom, which is a fair analogy to a complicated project like the Trinity Site Redevelopment Project, can exist in any of a large number of states (at a given energy.)
    When it actually assumes one state, all the others are excluded even though they are equally probable.  

  • A fitting tribute

    American troops will have all withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the month, ending the Iraqi Campaign, code-named Operation Iraqi Freedom, that began in March 2003.
    Lasting more than eight years and costing the nation approximately 4,404 Americans killed, 32,000 wounded and billions of dollars, it was conducted for a noble cause even if its execution at certain times, like all armed conflicts, was problematic.
    While there are clearly several places in the world today where we have American forces based, and which the reason and cost of keeping them there can no longer be justified, Iraq is not one of them.

  • Better cookies through science

    One of the best parts of baking for me as a kid was the process of “helping” my mama roll out and cut cookie shapes for the oven.
    At this age I know that I actually hindered her work and she was just being kind in letting me participate, but at the time I thought I was an aide in the process of transforming a lump of material into a thin sheet of ginger-rich dough that we could cut up into the barnyard animals of which I was so fond – and for which we had many different cutter shapes.

  • Have a feel good day

    Each weekend, I sit down and pour out my frustrations on the insanity of the world around me.  
    My friends keep telling me that they’re amazed at how many things I can write about and they ask me how I do it.  
    The secret rests on two simple truths.
     First, I’m willing to write about anything and everything regardless of the fact that I know absolutely nothing about the subject.  
    I’m an incarnation of the old adage that advice is cheap because supply exceeds demand.  
    Would you like for me to tell you my “expert” opinion on the economic plight of rutabaga farmers in Uruguay?  
    Or have me write on the ridiculous claims by some people that Uruguay even grows rutabagas?